EPA Proposes New Worker Protection Standards

The U.S. EPA announced in February proposed revisions to its Worker Protection Standards that would include, among other proposals, additional signage and training requirements and “no-entry” buffer zones around pesticide-treated fields. The suggested revisions have been in process for more than 15 years as EPA has been gathering input from stakeholders on the current EPA Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides, first established in 1992.

Among the proposed changes:

  • No-entry buffer areas of up to 100 feet, depending on type of pesticide being applied.
  • Increased frequency of mandatory training from once every five years to annually, and expand trainings to include additional information on potential routes of exposure and ways to decontaminate. A specially licensed trainer must be present throughout the training.
  • Expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for pesticides whose re-entry interval (REI) is greater than 48 hours.
  • Minimum-age requirement of 16 years to handle pesticides, with an exemption for family members.
  • Additional record-keeping requirements on applications, farmworker training and early-entry notification.
  • New OSHA-standard respirator requirements for personal protection.

A more detailed description of the proposed revisions can be found on EPA’s website. The public comment period on the proposed revisions is open until Aug. 18, 2014, and comments can be submitted online at www.regulations.gov.

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